The new Ph.D. stayed on at Berkeley as an assistant professor from 1950 to 1955. Despite his nascent professional success, his marriage was strained by multiple infidelities and mutual alcohol abuse. Marianne eventually committed suicide in 1955, leaving him to raise their son and daughter alone. He described himself during this period as "an anonymous institutional employee who drove to work each morning in a long line of commuter cars and drove home each night and drank martinis ... like several million middle-class, liberal, intellectual robots."
A Berkeley colleague, Marv Freedman, later recalled, "Something had been stirred in him in terms of breaking out of being another cog in society..."
In 1965, Leary commented that he had "learned more about ... (his) brain and its possibilities ... [and] more about psychology in the five hours after taking these mushrooms than ... in the preceding 15 years of studying and doing research in psychology."
Leary was affiliated with the Harvard Center for Research in Personality under McClelland and oversaw the Harvard Psilocybin Project.. In 1963, Leary was terminated for failing to give his scheduled class lectures against his position that he had fulfilled his teaching obligations in full. The decision to dismiss him may have been influenced by his role in the popularity of then-legal psychedelic substances among Harvard students and faculty members.
Leary argued that psychedelic substances, in proper doses and in a stable setting, could, under the guidance of psychologists, alter behavior in beneficial ways not easily attainable through regular therapy. His research focused on treating alcoholism and reforming criminals. Many of his research subjects told of profound mystical and spiritual experiences which they said permanently, and very positively, altered their lives. According to Leary's autobiography Flashbacks, after 300 professors, graduate students, writers and philosophers had taken LSD, 75% reported the experience as one of the most educational and revealing ones of their lives.
The Concord Prison Experiment was designed to evaluate the effects of psilocybin combined with psychotherapy on rehabilitation of released prisoners. After being guided through the psychedelic experience, or "trips," by Leary and his associates, 36 prisoners were reported to have repented and sworn to give up future criminal activity. Compared to the average recidivism rate of 60 percent for American prisoners in general, the recidivism rate for those involved in Leary's project dropped to 20 percent. The experimenters concluded that long-term reduction in overall criminal recidivism rates could be effected with a combination of psilocybin-assisted group psychotherapy (inside the prison) along with a comprehensive post-release follow-up support program modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous.
Leary and Alpert founded the International Foundation for Internal Freedom in 1962 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their research attracted so much public attention that many who wanted to participate in the experiments had to be turned away due to the high demand.
"we were attempting to create a new paganism and a new dedication to life as art."
"A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness. The scope and content of the experience is limitless, but its characteristic features are the transcendence of verbal concepts, of spacetime dimensions, and of the ego or identity.... Of course, the drug does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key — it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures"
[above excepts from Wikipedia]
Because every time you go to the supermarket buying your own food from that cold shelf, every time you take some meat from that disturbing fridge you fell there's something strange in our way of living. And because you have the same feeling every time you open the water tap, you take an elevator, you drive, you wait the green at a traffic light.
Because you need answers and because you don't know which are the right questions. Link